Sex, sorrow, snickers - Gail Schimmel on what we can expect from her new novel

"The biggest difference between writing this book and my previous books is that this is the first time I have really written sex scenes"

03 March 2019 - 00:00 By Gail Schimmel

Published in the Sunday Times (03/03/2019)

The idea for The Accident started, as most of my ideas do, as I contemplated my toes in the bath. I was thinking about how I often seem to write about life phases before I have actually lived them: I wrote about marriage before I was married, about having children before I had them, about loss to cancer before I lived it.

So I wondered what life phase I would write next - and Catherine's story was born.

For me, the ideas always start with the question "what if". But I can't really say more without spoiling this story.

The biggest difference between writing this book and my previous books is that this is the first time I have really written sex scenes. I hate writing sex; I've avoided it until now. But every time I let Julia and Daniel into a room together, they started taking each other's clothes off. I did my best to talk them out of it...but they were very insistent. I am not usually one to claim that I can't control my characters - but apparently I can't!

This book is written from four points of view - which is always fun because you get to play with different characters intimately. It's always surprising which characters are the most fun to write and take on a life of their own - and in this book there were two who I really loved writing. 

The first is Claire, a woman who for me is an amalgamation of all those women who seem to have their acts completely together. I loved exploring how it must feel to be that person, and how it must feel when your life goes wrong. 

The other character I loved writing was Daniel. Daniel is Catherine's daughter Julia's married lover and he is a bit of a caricature of a certain type of man. I had so much fun with him. 

I think it is also the first time I have written such an emotional book. I cried every time I reread it even though I knew what was coming and I made the whole thing up!

I hope that other people find it as emotional as I did. Otherwise I am going to have to start worrying about my sanity. I also laughed a lot. And isn't laughing at your own jokes the first sign of madness? Oh dear.


The Accident is published by Pan Macmillan, R270

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